Monday, April 29, 2013

Journey to the Cloud with Windows Azure - Scenario III - Windows Azure Virtual Machines

We covered Azure Cloud Services and Azure Websites in the earlier posts.  Now, lets take another customer scenario, which is as below:

Scenario III:
A customer in hospitalization sector has around 300 virtual machines, some of these on Windows Server 2008 Operating system and some on open source platforms, such as Linux, Ubantu. There are around 200+ applications running on these servers. He also has some internal Intranet based portals running on SharePoint Server 2010. He has no plan of changing anything with respect to the applications, and his main challenge is IT Infrastructure procurement cost and management of these servers. He is looking at both cost optimization, at the same time wants high availability and performance of his applications.

The real power of cloud computing is the flexibility it offers when it comes to the kind of offering that we would like to manage.  The above scenario requires basically infrastructure with more control over the machines, with cost optimization. This is exactly where Azure Infrastructure as a Service helps. With Azure IaaS, the customer can have full control of virtual machine on cloud, with implicit features of Load balancing and High availability.

Similarly, administrators and even certain Developers who want much control of the deployment environment particularly in cases where there needs to be integration with other components, can leverage the advantages of Azure IaaS. 

In the above case, IaaS offers the flexibility to power up virtual machines of specific operating system, configuration, and platform image from the portal. Another cool thing about Azure IaaS is that even open source platforms such as Linux and Ubantu are supported. There are also images for SharePoint Server 2013 and BizTalk Server that can be used.

How to deploy Azure Virtual Machines:
Lets assume a case where we need a Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2008 R2 edition running on the cloud. We can simply login to the portal and choose the configuration required and have a Virtual Machine running in few minutes. The VM provisioned can be logged in using a RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol), similar to how we connect to any server on-premises.

Here below is a sample screen of the virtual machine offerings, available in Quick Create
Azure Virtual Machine Images

Sometimes, we will have specific requirements like, to run a Virtual Machine that has SQL Server installed, or a Virtual Machine with BizTalk or SharePoint Server.  These are resource intensive products and having them run on the Cloud powered by the Virtualization makes more sense than having the required hardware and servers locally.
Windows Azure IaaS offers Platform Images in the Gallery that one can choose and have it up running.  The example screen below shows the available platform images.

Not just that, you can also choose the region where you would like to have these running.  Also, make them part of an Availability Set and Affinity Groups where you would like to host them in combination with other services, for a lesser network latency.
All of these in configurable screens to choose the optimum configuration/settings for our Virtual Machines.
Azure Virtual Machine Operating System Gallery

We will explore more on Virtual Machines in the subsequent posts.

Trivia: IaaS Virtual Machines use Windows Azure Blob Storage for storing the virtual hard disk, so you would need to create a Storage Account when creating a Virtual Machine.

No comments: